The Dallas Cowboys fired Jason Garrett and most of the coaching staff this offseason after a disappointing 8-8 finish in 2019 and missing the playoffs. Mike McCarthy, Mike Nolan, and other new arrivals are expected to affect positive change, and the roster movement this year further emphasizes the need for improved coaching to improve results.
The Cowboys have certainly brought in some big-name players and exciting new rookies. The defense has been bolstered with former 1st-Round picks like Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. There’s also the intriguing duo of pass rushers in Aldon Smith and Randy Gregory.
We’re all still glowing about the seemingly awesome haul of talent Dallas added in the 2020 NFL Draft; CeeDee Lamb, Trevon Diggs, Neville Gallimore, and others.
But we also said goodbye to some quality players this offseason; Travis Frederick, Byron Jones, Randall Cobb, Robert Quinn, and Maliek Collins headlining the departures.
When you look at the outgoing players versus the incoming talent, how much stronger overall did the Cowboys really get?
- Can we really expect any of our new cornerbacks to be as good as Byron Jones? Maybe one day, but as rookies?
- Will either Gregory or Smith be able to come off their missed time and be as effective as Robert Quinn?
- Ceedee Lamb should be a greater player than Randall Cobb before long, but will the Cowboys miss the veteran presence in 2020?
- The prospect of Blake Jarwin finally getting to be “the man” at tight end is exciting, but he still has to prove it.
- Will any of the contenders at center really be as good as Travis Frederick?
These questions abound through the Cowboys’ roster. Sure there are a few clear upgrades; Andy Dalton at backup QB, McCoy and Poe on the defensive line, Clinton-Dix over Jeff Heath at safety. But there is still a whole lot of “wait and see” in Dallas’ moves this year and what sort of team they will produce.
That turnover makes coaching all the more imperative. Mike McCarthy’s staff, particularly on defense, has to teach a new system while also helping the new players gel with the incumbents.
I do think the Cowboys are more talented now than they were last year. But it may take time for that talent to all come together, or for our exciting rookie class to be able to contribute at full potential.
That means McCarthy and Mike Nolan have to better than the guys they’re replacing. Holdover Kellen Moore needs to keep growing as a coordinator in his second season. Otherwise, Dallas may wind up not much better than an 8-8 team again.
Jason Garrett has been accused of “wasting” the best year of players like Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware, Jason Witten, and Dez Bryant; that the Cowboys were a Super Bowl team with an undermining coach.
I would argue that Garrett got more out of the Cowboys in some years than other coaches would have. Keeping the team competitive during the salary cap issues and roster turnover from 2010-2013 was not easy.
But there’s no denying that Jason seemed outclassed in some big games and especially in the playoffs. For whatever reasons, the other team always seemed to have an edge.
Mike McCarthy’s Packers bounced the Cowboys from the playoffs twice in the last six seasons. He was 5-1 overall against Dallas since Garrett became head coach.
Sure, McCarthy had Aaron Rodgers and we didn’t. But if you thought Tony Romo was so great and believe in Dak Prescott now then you can’t really have it both ways.
Garrett got the Cowboys close a few times. McCarthy stopped them on two of them. It’s why he’s the new head coach in Dallas.
The Cowboys are counting on that move, above anything else they did this offseason, to finally get them over the hump. And at least for this year, McCarthy may not have much more talent to work with than Garrett had.
Dallas has laid a great foundation for 2020 and especially the next few seasons to come. But if they’re going to contend for a Super Bowl right now, it’s going to be on McCarthy and his staff to get more out of this roster than the last coaching regime did.